The Pros And Cons Of Buying B2B Digital Imaging Devices

At Wirth Consulting, we’re all about B2B.  Our Web site and What You Should Know Product Evaluations focus on digital-imaging devices such as printers and MFPs that you can buy on the Web or from a retail source.  As a member of the small-business community, we prefer to shop online for our printers, AOIs and MFPs, etc., pay with a credit card, and have the products delivered to our front door.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?  However, there are numerous advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before deciding to purchase B2B.  These advantages and disadvantages will largely depend on the complexity and scope of your digital-imaging needs.   In the end, you may find that you need a device supplied by an authorized dealer.

Advantages Of Buying B2B

  • You don’t have to make any phone calls for detailed product information.
  • Since you don’t have to make any phone calls, you don’t have to deal with sales representatives.
  • You don’t have to negotiate pricing–what you see is what you pay.
  • You can have the product delivered to your doorstep as soon as the next day.
  • You can pay by credit card.
  • Comparison shopping is easy.  Wirth Consulting’s Web site makes it even easier.
  • You can shop for the best price on the device, supplies and accessories.

Disadvantages Of Buying B2B

  • You must unbox and assemble the device yourself.
  • You must install the device on the network yourself.
  • You must install the software and utilities on each workstation yourself.
  • There is generally no on-site service.  If the device is defective or has a serious malfunction, you must pack it back up and send it back to the manufacturer or to a repair center.
  • Aside from applications and drivers that come bundled with the device, there’s limited (if any) technical support for other applications.
  • There is limited (if any) local technical support.
  • You must save all packing materials and find a space to store and easily retrieve them if necessary.
  • B2B digital-imaging products are heavily weighted towards consumer-based products, so performance may not be acceptable for business use.  Devices are generally restricted to low- to mid-volume devices.  At Wirth Consulting, we only review B2B devices that we feel provide acceptable cost/performance for office use, so we can help you narrow down your list.

Advantages Of Buying From An Authorized Dealer

  • On-site service; response time is generally about four hours.
  • Local and on-site technical support.
  • There is a single source for billing, service, supplies, etc.
  • You can negotiate a fixed Cost Per Page plan.
  • You can negotiate leasing terms.
  • You can choose from a wide range of low- to very high-volume products.
  • Local and on-site support for a wide range of applications.
  • Product is delivered assembled or is assembled on site.
  • You don’t have to save the packaging, and the dealer will usually dispose of the packaging for you.
  • Product will be installed on the network for you.
  • Print drivers/utilities will be installed on a computer workstation or workstations for you.

Disadvantages Of Buying from An Authorized Dealer

  • You have to locate a dealer and make a phone call.
  • You must wait for a return phone call from a sales representative
  • There is no shopping.  The sales representative will give you the details.
  • It is difficult to determine the most appropriate model for your needs beforehand.
  • It is nearly impossible to determine your Cost Per Page and Total Cost of Ownership beforehand.
  • You must wait several days for delivery of the product.
  • There is no shopping for supplies, consumables or accessories.  You must order them from the dealer you used to purchase the device.
  • You are locked into an annual service contract that can vary from year-to-year.
  • When leasing products, you are encouraged to buy new products when the lease terms are met.   This can be in as little as three years, even when the device may still have a lot of life and use left in it.

Recommendations When Buying B2B

If you think that a B2B device fits your needs, here are some recommendations that you should consider before taking the plunge:

  • You must be willing and able to assemble and install the device.  For the most part, this is pretty easy.  However, you or somebody else should have some mechanical aptitude and a screwdriver with good tips.
  • You must be willing and able to install the device on the network, and install the utilities and software on each workstation.  We have found that the utilities that are shipped with the device make this a simple but sometimes time-consuming operation.
  • Determine your Cost Per Page (CPP) ahead of time.  We have found that the cost per page from device-to-device can vary widely and greatly determines your Total Cost of Operation (TCO).  Thankfully, we save you the headache of this chore, as we publish both CPP and TCO in our Wirth Consulting WYSK Evaluations.
  • Check beforehand and be ready to pay not just for ink/toner, but for any maintenance kits, print heads, drum units or waste-disposal units.  To save you this chore, our Wirth Consulting WYSK reports indicate the price and page yield of these components, and factor the costs into our CPP and TCO calculations.
  • You must be willing and able to change components such as drum units, transfer belts, fuser kits and print heads.  Replacing consumables will be easier with some devices (such as those that employ all-in-one toner cartridges), than with other devices.
  • Make sure that you save the packaging so that you can send the device back for replacement or to a repair center if necessary.  Don’t bury the packaging so that you can find it if it becomes necessary.
  • Keep unpacking instructions so that you can correctly pack the device back up if necessary.  Tip:  We take photos of the unpacking process so that we can more easily pack the products back up for return.

And last of course, remember to consult “Wirth Consulting, Before You Buy” before purchasing a B2B digital-imaging product.

Happy reading!
Terry Wirth

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